Imagine a future in which a computer reduces the time and effort required to develop new drugs or saves lives with more accurate weather forecasting. Quantum computers find answers to complex sets of problems that today’s classical (non-quantum) computers are really bad at. Classical computers operate by sequentially manipulating “strings of bits” that can either be a “0” or a “1.” Quantum computers operate using “qubits” which can be a “0,” “1” or both simultaneously. Quantum computers can solve problems faster because “qubits” exist in multiple states simultaneously, allowing algorithms to complete their analyses in fewer steps than classical computers.

In May, I was excited to see that IBM made quantum computing available to the public on the IBM Cloud platform. I was eager to increase my quantum computing knowledge, so I signed up for access. Since I really didn’t know anything about qubits, superposition, entanglement, gates, or quantum algorithms, I spent four hours completing the quantum computing tutorial available through the portal. Quantum computing is different than traditional computer science, so you have to be willing to “let go of what you know.” Quantum computing involves computation, so you should be prepared for a high-school math refresher as you take the tutorial.

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